03.24.21

Ranking Member Burr Supports Deputy Secretary of Education Nominee, Urges Democrats to Follow Suit Despite Historical Practice

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its nomination hearing for Cindy Marten to serve as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

In his prepared opening remarks, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) highlighted Ms. Martin’s experience in elementary and secondary education and underlined the importance of having experience in the higher education system, especially as federal student loan debt has taken on a new urgency. Additionally, Ranking Member Burr noted his Democrat colleagues’ abandonment of their “guilty until nomination” practice that was frequently used against nominees under the previous Administration.

3.24

WATCH: Ranking Member Richard Burr delivers opening statement before the nomination hearing of Cindy Marten

Excerpts:

“Ms. Marten, you have been nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education…

“Your experience as a teacher and principal and, since 2013, as superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, which annually receives millions of dollars for various federal K-12 programs, certainly gives you experience implementing a number of programs that ultimately report into the Deputy Secretary’s office.

“You might be the best possible nominee for Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education in the history of the agency. However, your record as superintendent highlights some challenges you’ll have should you be the Deputy.

“In particular, you appear to have little or no experience working in a higher education system or institution, working on higher education policy, or managing a large student debt portfolio. I recall several questions to officials in the last Administration about their experience managing a $1 trillion student loan program so I assume that those questions will be asked of you today…

“So, despite any reservations, I believe your passion for education and helping students learn will enable you to succeed in the position of Deputy Secretary of Education. I very much want you to succeed, I’m inclined to support your nomination, and want to extend to you an offer to provide whatever assistance I and my staff can to help you.  

“Having said that, I would also like to point some things out to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle because I firmly believe that if Ms. Marten were a Republican or was being nominated by a Republican President, they would be lined up in opposition against you.

“First, I don’t believe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would support a Republican nominee who was superintendent of a school district with large disparities on how minority and white students were disciplined…

“I don’t believe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would support a Republican nominee whom disability advocates claimed has been, and I quote, ‘difficult to deal with in terms of transparency and sharing information with families of students with special needs as Disability Rights California claimed about you’…

“I [also] think my colleagues would vigorously question a Republican nominee who oversaw a school district where top level administrators were trained on how to delete emails from the public record, in violation of state public records law, as local news reports have claimed occurred in your school district…

“Finally, I can picture the letter demanding testimony from the local NAACP not only publically opposed their nomination, but stated the nominee has, and I quote, ‘been an ineffective leader of California’s second largest school district’ and are ‘ill-equipped for the tremendous responsibility of serving the needs of your entire nation’s young learners’…

“So, I’m glad to see that my Democratic friends have abandoned their guilty upon nomination stance that they have taken for the past four years, and I hope they will reflect on the damage they did to the Senate by unceasingly opposing any and all nominees basically just because they accepted a nomination from the last President.

“Ms. Marten, I hope you take this opportunity to help the Committee understand why your background, experience, and record of work merit a promotion. And I hope you are able to convince my Democratic friends that they should support you as well.”

To read Ranking Member Burr’s full prepared opening remarks, click here.